Yarning with Mad Martha about…the Edgar books (+ a free crochet pattern)!

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yarning with mad martha_Fotor (2)

Cheerio my dears!  If you are a fan of the delightfully macabre Edgar Allan Poe, then today’s books are sure to have you quivering with excitement!  Recently we managed to get our paws on some books that have been on our TBR list for a while and just as we suspected, they were a hit with the shelf-denizens AND the mini-fleshlings!  edgar and the cover_Fotor

I speak of the Edgar series of books, part of the Babylit range by Jennifer Adams, that introduces the tiniest of fleshlings to literary classics.  While most of this range are in the form of primers, the Edgar series bumps things up a bit, with more text, a story loosely based on the originals and a gorgeous pair of protagonists that you can’t help but fall in love with….and of course, recreate in yarnful glory.

The first book in the series is Edgar Gets Ready for Bed, inspired by Poe’s famous poem, The Raven.  Following on from this we have Edgar and the Tattle-Tale Heart and most recently, Edgar and the Fall of the Tree House of Usher…I’m pretty sure you can guess the titles of the poems upon which these last two are based.

edgar gets ready for bed

edgar and the tattle tale heart

tree house of usher

Sadly for us, our library only had the second two books in the series, so we’re still hanging out to read about Edgar and getting ready for bed (“Nevermore!”) but the second two books were hugely enjoyable.  The older mini-fleshling particularly loved the Tree House of Usher with its initial “No Girls Allowed” theme, while the younger mini-fleshling enjoyed seeing Lenore (Edgar’s younger sister) finally receive the recognition that she deserved.

edgar face to face_Fotor Even if you haven’t read the original poems (in which camp I fully admit to sitting), the stories stand well in their own right.  For those who are more familiar with Poe’s work however, you will find plenty of motifs in both the text and Ron Stucki’s darling illustrations.  The books are available in paperback and hardback as well as board book (our favourite!) formats, so there will be a perfect edition for mini-fleshlings of any age.  We’d definitely recommend Poe fans and Poe fans-to-be check these out (either with your eyes, or from the library – we did both!) at your earliest convenience!

edgar on a bust

Edgar quickly found a bust on which to perch

 

Now, on to the crochet pattern!  I will admit that this pattern may have a few small errors in it, as I tried to render Edgar’s head and  body in one single piece, rather than attaching a beak separately.  The pattern is written in US crochet terms because that’s how I learned first.

What you will need:

Black yarn

Small amount of white yarn

3.5mm crochet hook

Stitch marker

Pipe cleaners or thin wire

Scissors

Yarn needle

Head, beak and body

Using black yarn, make a magic ring and crochet 6 sc in the ring

  1. 2sc in each sc around (12)
  2. *2sc in the next sc, sc* repeat x 6 (18)
  3. Sc in the next 6 sc; 2sc in the next 6 sc; sc in the next 6 sc (24)
  4. Sc in the next 8 sc; ch 1, turn (8)
  5. Repeat round 4 (8)
  6. Repeat round 4 (8)
  7. Sc in next 8 sc, then continue in the round sc in the next 16 sc (24)
  8. Sc2tog; sc in the next 4sc; sc2tog, ch 1, turn (6)
  9. Sc in next 6 sc, ch 1 turn (6)
  10. Repeat round 9 (6)
  11. Sc in next 6 sc, then continue in the round sc in the next 14 sc (20)
  12. Sc2tog, sc in the next 2 sc, Sc2tog, ch 1, turn (4)
  13. Sc in the next 4 sc, ch1, turn (4)
  14. Repeat round 13 (4)
  15. Sc2tog, sc2tog, ch1, turn (2)
  16. Sc in the next 2 sc, ch 1, turn 90 degrees (2)
  17. Sc down the edge of the beak and continue with 1 sc in each sc and back up the beak, back to the point of the beak
  18. Repeat round 17
  19. Repeat round 17
  20. Repeat round 17
  21. . Sc in the next 8 sc (place a stitch marker here!), sc in the next 18 sc, SKIP the stitches that make up the beak, slip stitch in the sc with the stitch marker. Stuff the head a little here if you wish. (26)
  22. 2sc in the SAME sc, sc in the next st; *2sc in next sc, sc in the next sc* repeat 5 times (27)
  23. *2sc in the next st, sc in the next sc* repeat 6 times (41)
  24. Sc in each sc around (41)
  25. Repeat round 24
  26. Repeat round 24
  27. Repeat round 24
  28. Repeat round 24
  29. *Sc2tog, sc in the next sc* repeat 6 times (27)
  30. *Sc2tog, sc in the next sc* repeat 6 times (18)
  31. *Sc2tog, sc in the next sc* repeat 6 times (12)
  32. Stuff the body and head here.
  33. Sc2tog repeat 6 times (6)
  34. Sc around (6)
  35. Fasten off leaving a long tail. Using the yarn needle, weave the tail through the last round of sc, pull tight, knot and snip remaining tail off.

Finishing the beak

Using the yarn needle and black yarn, whip stitch the open stitches at the bottom of the beak together.  Tie off and snip remaining yarn away.

Tail

Using black yarn, make a magic ring and crochet 6 sc in the ring.

  1. Sc in each sc around (6)
  2. Repeat round 1 eight more times
  3. Flatten the tail, fasten off leaving a long tail and attach to the back of Edgar’s body at a jaunty angle.

Wings (Make 2)

Using black yarn, make a magic ring and crochet 6 sc in the ring.

  1. 2sc in each sc around (12)
  2. Repeat round 1, three more times
  3. Flatten, and sc across the opening
  4. *Ch 6, sl st in the next sc* repeat 3 times
  5. Fasten off and attach to Edgar’s body, with chains facing tail.

Eyes (make 2)

Using white yarn, make a magic ring and crochet 6sc in the ring.  Sl st into the first sc.  Close the ring tight, fasten off and stitch onto Edgar’s face.  Use black yarn to embroider pupils.

Hair

Using two short strands of black yarn, surface slip stitch to the top of Edgar’s head.  Knot and pull tight.

Legs (Make 2)

Cut your pipe cleaner or wire into two short sections of about 1.5cm.

Using black yarn, ch 1, sc over the pipe cleaner until your pipe cleaner is covered in sc stitches.

Ch 6, attach to the final sc on the pipe cleaner with a sl st. Repeat twice more.

Fasten off and attach leg to Edgar’s body firmly.

edgar and brucey_Fotor

I hope that these instructions are easy enough to follow.  Of course, if you’d like to make a little Lenore to keep Edgar company (as well as to keep a beady eye on him!) you can follow the pattern above and just add a small bow to the head.

Until we meet again, I am,

Yours in yarn,

Mad Martha

 

 

Adult Fiction Read-It-If Review: Mr Wicker…

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Cheerio my pretties! Today I have an indie fantasy-paranormal-horror story for the grown-ups that features all manner of creepy goings-on.  I was initially drawn to it because of the raven on the cover (cool!) and the fact that it was set partly in a ghostly library (super-cool!) and partly in a psychiatric inpatient facility (count me in!).  I received a digital copy of today’s book, Mr Wicker by Maria Alexander from the publisher, Raw Screaming Dog Press (now there’s a name that gives you a good idea what sort of books they publish) in exchange for review – thanks!

Alicia Baum is experiencing a run of failures – her husband left her, her last book bombed in sales, and the bank is foreclosing on her house – and decides to end it all.  As she loses consciousness during her suicide attempt, Alicia finds herself inside a mysterious library with the sinister librarian, Mr Wicker, who informs her that his library holds a book containing Alicia’s lost memory – the one that is the cause of all her suffering to date.  Before she can take possession of the book, or move on into the (proper) hereafter, Alicia wakes to find herself in Bayford Psychiatric Hospital, under the control of the odious Dr Sark. 

Dr James Farron is a paediatric psychiatrist with a special interest in Alicia’s case.  Using funding for a research grant, Dr Farron is attempting to find out more about the mysterious Mr Wicker, a name that continually arises in the sleep-talk of children suffering trauma who are brought to the hospital.  Alicia is the first adult Dr Farron has ever encountered who has mentioned Mr Wicker, and he intends to find out why.

As the two cross paths in the hospital, danger is closing in from all sides, threatening to end Dr Farron’s career and Alicia’s life.  Unless Alicia can untangle the mystery of her missing memory, Mr Wicker may just open the door to some very old secrets indeed, that have the potential to change Alicia and Dr Farron forever.

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I’m going to do things a bit differently this time, as I tend to do when I feature books with some particularly sensitive or disturbing themes (and this book has a bit of both), so here is a “Don’t Read it if…” disclaimer for those who are faint of heart.

Don’t Read it if:

* you are in a fragile state of mind and the graphic description of a suicide attempt and violence against the female lead character is not something you want in your current reading experience

Now, onto the Read it if:

*you like your fantasy/horror stories to be raw, graphic and featuring more than a little violence, creepiness and smouldering sensuality

* you’ve ever been minding your own business and enjoying a quiet stroll in the park when out of the blue a large angry bird descends seemingly out of nowhere to chase, swoop and peck you … this point applies doubly if this has happened to you indoors

* when reading stories set in a psychiatric hospital, you prefer said hospital to employ practices more suited to a medieval torture chamber

*you believe fantasy/horror just isn’t fantasy/horror unless it takes a completely unexpected turn right in the middle of the story, preferably involving a little known ancient myth that features eternally repeating betrayal and murder

Mr Wicker was a lot more graphic in its horror and violence than the books that I usually read, but I suspect it will greatly appeal to those who regularly enjoy this genre.  Graphic descriptions aside though, the author manages to deliver a pretty complex storyline without losing control of any of the multiple plot threads.  Throughout the book, there’s a palpable sense of danger to Alicia, and the feeling that things aren’t what they seem.  A number of the hospital staff are less than professional, to say the least, and as the story unfolds the reader gets the idea that not only may Alicia be in danger from supernatural forces, but from some very human forces also.

Dr Farron is an instantly likeable, if somewhat stereotypical character, fulfilling the role of Alicia’s protector and champion when all around her seem to discount her experiences as the ravings of a madwoman.  The author manages to throw any stereotypes out the window with the introduction of a new and entirely unexpected (for me, anyway) plotline right in the middle of the book, that sheds light on the character of Mr Wicker and the reasons why he is so interested in Alicia herself.

Underlying all of this is Alicia’s missing memory and how this has contributed to her unraveling life.  This mystery is played out slowly, as Alicia dips into her family history in sessions with Dr Farron, but can’t quite grasp the memory that Mr Wicker guards so closely.  The inclusion of this personal psychological mystery as one of the major plotlines gives a nice break from all the other strangeness going on in the book and allows for a change of pace that I appreciated when it popped up every now and then.

Overall, I’d say that this book has a satisfying blend of fantasy themes, anticipated romance, family secrets, horror and mystery  and will appeal to those who are looking for a complex story with a lot of twists and turns.  And large, flapping birds appearing in odd places.  Mr Wicker is due for release on September 16th.

Until next time,

Bruce

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